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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

North Dakota Mandate Legislation

The Grand Forks Herald reports that a proposed insurance mandate in North Dakota has two features in common with proposals elsewhere: it is named for a person with autism, and it has support from legislators with firsthand experience:

A Dickinson, N.D., father wants kids like his 8-year-old son to be able to get the help they need.

Nick Gates is pushing for “Noah’s Law,” which would require health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. The bill draft applies to those under the Public Employees Retirement System.

Gates, who works for the Dickinson Police Department, testified Tuesday before the legislative Employee Benefits Programs Committee..

Sen. Carolyn Nelson, D-Fargo, who has a grandson with autism, said she and Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, are supporting the bipartisan legislation.

The bill draft would require insurance companies, nonprofit health service corporations or health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Coverage would be limited to treatment prescribed by a physician in accordance with a treatment plan.

The bill also states coverage could not be terminated or refused solely because the individual is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or has received treatment.

Peter Roverud of Minneapolis-based Deloitte Consulting told lawmakers an estimated 85 Public Employees Retirement System members would receive treatment for autism spectrum disorder at a cost to the plan of $25,000 to $35,000.

This would equate to a per member per month cost of $3.08 to $4.31, or about $2.1 million to $3 million annually, he said.